Since my last piece about the Push Pike
, I’ve had the chance to ride and compare a stock Pike to the Push Pike. I took both forks and did back to back rides on the same trails using the same bike.Even if I had spent a good amount of time on my stock Pike 454 Dual Air before sending it to Push, I really wanted to pin point exactly where Push had made improvements. So the fine folks at RockShox provided me with a stock Pike Dual Air so I could perform a direct side by side comparison.
The first step was to break in the new stock Pike – so I mounted that bad boy on my Specialized Stumpjumper and rode it pretty hard for a good solid week. The test consisted of back to back rides the same trails using both forks. I did most of my testing in the Santa Cruz Mountains where you can find all sort of terrain to test on – and during the winter it’s a treat since the place can get pretty tacky after the rain.
On Day numero uno, I rode the stock Pike, and then on Day two rode the Push Pike – making sure I rode the same exact trails. After that I did one week on the stock pike, then the next week on the Push Pike – again, riding the same array of trails. I’ll start by saying that the sock Pike is one hell of a fork right out of the box. I made a point of riding it for a full week before starting the test – but to be honest; it felt as good on my first ride as it did at the end of the week.Stumpjumper with Push Dual Air Pike
I’ll first start by saying this: If you plan on sending your Pike to Push, make sure you’re honest with yourself and tell them exactly what kind of riding you do. If you tell them you ride super aggressive trails when in reality 90% of your riding takes place on buffed single track – chances are you’ll end up with a fork that has the wrong tune, which means it will have to go back to Push.
Like any damper that is tuned for performance, there are some trade-offs. A good example of this is high performance suspension on a car. High-end coil-overs will enhances the car’s handling characteristics at high speeds and will let you take turns with little to no body roll. On the other hand, you’ll also feel every single bump on the road, especially those speed bumps at your local shopping mall. Now take a car that has a supper plush suspension and take it down some twisty roads at speed – yeah that’s right, pretty scary thought!
First lets start with rebound damping. In stock trim, the PIKE uses what’s referred to as a 'port orifice' system. Simply put, the oil path on rebound flows through a single hole. This is very effective in offering a very broad range of user tune-ability with the external factory knob. What PUSH does, is alter the rebound system to use multiple levels of rebound control based on the input of the bump on varied terrain. For instance, the fork can produce high levels of rebound resistance during g-outs or single impacts, but open additional oil flow paths to reduce rebound damping under successive hits such as braking bumps when you want the fork to be more reactive. Because of this, the fork has a firmer, more controlled feel at low speed that compromises some small bump sensitivity if you’re looking for all out comfort. But for those of you looking for control when the going gets rough, well...ya know!Stumpjumper with Stock Dual Air Pike
At high speeds when the going gets rough, my Push Pike outperformed the stock Pike. The travel is much more controlled, fork dive is minimal and there’s a slight increase in traction when cornering. The stock Pike would start washing in some rougher corners where the Push Pike did not. At first I thought that maybe the rebound was too fast – so I did a few test runs, adding some rebound each time until the fork started feeling like it was packing. Still, the Push Pike performed better in this situation. The Push Pike also felt more controlled when climbing – there is less unnecessary movement when climbing technical terrain.
So, there’s obviously some trade-offs. As suspension control increases, you get decreased fork dive and excessive movement, but at the cost of some of the forks suppleness. At some point between the extremes, traction is maximized. That’s what Push tries to achieve then they tune your fork – reason why it’s really important for you to tell them what kind of riding you do. Get the right compression and rebound damping circuits and you got a winning combination!
What did I loose? Compliancy under low frequency hits! The stock Pike did a much better job as soaking bumps at lower speeds. Say you’re sitting in the saddle, cruising on your favorite trail and start hitting some smaller rocks, roots, etc.. My Push Pike feels a bit firmer. By that I mean you’ll get some feedback through the handlebars. Understandably, this is how I specified for my fork to be setup. Again, like mentioned earlier, this is the trade-off of riding suspension that is tuned for performance. Considering how well the fork performs otherwise, that’s something I’m willing to live with. I would like to point out that you cannot judge the Push Pike by simply riding it in the parking lot – you need to take it out to the trails and beat it against some rocks and roots!
Doesn’t matter if you’re an aggressive rider who likes to go balls out and pin those descents as fast as you can or someone that just likes to do long moderate epic rides on buffed single track. Push can tune the Pike to meet your riding needs. If at first you don’t like how your Push Pike performs, Push can de-tune the fork to feel plusher at lower speeds, but keep in mind that this will adversely affect the performance of the fork at higher speeds.
If you really want best of both worlds – get a longer travel bike and buy a RockShox Lyrik!
I also want to apologize for the lack of images - I had a slew of pics on my memory card, but I accidentally deleted them before heading out to Sea Otter